January 21, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Shuts Door on Child Online Protection Act

U.S. Supreme Court Shuts Door on Child Online Protection Act:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that a law designed to shield children from pornography on the Internet violated the constitutional right to free speech.

The move by the highest court, which let the ruling stand without comment, would appear to mean the end of the road for the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was passed by Congress in 1998 but never enforced.

Rights groups welcomed the Supreme Court decision not to hear the Bush administration's appeal of the ban on COPA, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describing it as a "clear victory for free speech."

The ACLU has been among the groups which filed legal challenges to COPA on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment right to free speech.

"For over a decade the government has been trying to thwart freedom of speech on the Internet, and for years the courts have been finding the attempts unconstitutional," ACLU senior staff attorney Chris Hansen said Wednesday.

"It is not the role of the government to decide what people can see and do on the Internet," he said in a statement. "Those are personal decisions that should be made by individuals and their families."


Maria said...

Hooray! I fully support this ruling.

Mary H said...

What does this ruling mean for the Tech Center? Does our policy change at all?

Barry said...

It's one thing to say the government can't determine what people are looking at, but a completely different thing for government (i.e., the library) to provide a means to access objectionable material. After all, we don't have a pornography section, right? While this act appears dead, there are other precedents concerning community standards that would, it would seem to me, to rule in this case. Besides that, it would be politically tone deaf to simply throw out the policy we have and invite a backlash. I think a middle way, something like opening email access and social network sites while continuing to block porn, would be a reasonable and defensible approach.

Interesting times.

Phillip Kwik said...

This has no impact on how we function in the Library. Currently, our computers used by adults are unfiltered. This means that the public has a right to view whatever legal material they choose. We will continue to operate in this way.

Our youth and young adult computers have filters, which are mandated under the Child Internet Protection Act. This law specifically applies to libraries and other institutions receiving public funding. We will continue to use software filtering on our computer is the Youth Services Department and in the Teen Resources Center to comply with this Act.